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turning away from the edge of the end

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turning away from the edge of the end

you take a beautiful thing,
pull off the wing,
pull off the wing,
safety pin.

It never shines quite as bright again.

you haven't told me anything, keane


 Sometimes--

She shuffles some paper, an attempt to distract herself from these strange thoughts. Hopes, waits, for the crackle of the radio, but it doesn't come, instead, there it is, in the back of her head, nagging at her, pulling at barely healed wounds, picking at raw scabs.

Sometimes she looks at Ann and sees her Becky.

The ghost of the girl she could have been.

 ...

She tries not to compare Ann and Becky.

There's something in her brain that shuts down whenever she does. 

She's always had trouble thinking about Becky without wanting to scream, or kill someone, or cry. And now Ann's tangled up in all of that, with everything that haunts her at night when she closes her eyes.

There's something about the curve of her face, the survivor, that dredges up memories she'd rather forget, and yet there's something about their friendship, forged in life or death, in that split second between living and dying on that street, on that day, when the weather was far too nice for the horrors that unfolded.

They are confidants, breathing words they dare not speak aloud to anyone else. 

And when Ann's drunk in the street, chucking up on the pavement, because the drink is the only thing that numbs her enough from the memories of a dark cellar, and a pair of dead, grey eyes that belonged to a monster, there's something there, stirring inside. The ache to make sure she'll be okay, (but will she ever be?) to look after her.

The ache of motherhood. 

For a child who is not hers. 

But, sometimes, in the glare of the street lights, and Ann's slurring rubbish about her, does it matter? 

... 

She didn't sleep after Becky.

The noose, the blue lips, the crushing flickers of memories of a girl who was long gone.   

Who could have?

...

Now she doesn't sleep either. 

There's still the twisted face, the unseeing eyes, the soft crying of a newborn baby in the background like some macabre soundtrack.   

But now there's a dank cellar and bulging, frightened eyes and duck tape, and all the unspoken horrors conveyed in one look.

No sleep for Catherine. Not anymore.     

...

She became a copper because she wanted to help people. 

How come she couldn't save her own flesh and blood? 

'Piece of toast?' Clare asks, snapping her out of her head.

Ryan's tapping his spoon on the table, Clare's sipping from her mug, Daniel's still there, though she's not quite sure why. 

A rag-tag assortment of family - her sister, her son, her grandchild. A mockery of the traditional.

All unwanted. No. That's cruel. 

All broken, then, though maybe not Ryan.

Ryan is the innocent, isn't he, in all the shit life has thrown at them? 

... 

She was scared, lying in her hospital bed, her ribs screaming, her entire body screaming, wanting to scream - scared that she'd wake up one morning and Clare would be there, and she'd whisper quietly, 'Ann wasn't as strong as you thought,' and then she'd pause, and, when she spoke again, she'd say, 'She... you know, like our Becky.' 

But she never did 

Ann's still here. 

The dread's still there, mind, that the moment will still come. She hopes to God it won't.        

...    

She can remember the beep of the machines, the cloying smell of antiseptic. 

Can remember the slight hand, clasped in her own. 

'Thank you,' mumbled again and again. 

Her eyes tight shut. 

'Thank you,' mumbled again and again. 

Eyes open, Ann sitting beside her. 

'All in a day's work,' spluttered out, through a dry mouth, and aching ribs. 

A laugh, no real humour, but encouraging none the less. 

'Course,' her visitor says, softly, just above a whisper. 

Then, after a moment, 'Thank you,' yet again.   

She can remember that moment. Remember the gratitude. Ann's hand in hers, two people bound together by events, and Catherine isn't sure that it will ever be broken.

They saved each other, though she's not sure anyone remembers that.

She's the hero copper, rescuing the helpless victim - but if it hadn't been for Ann, she never would have made it out of there. They saved each other, so lying in that bed she says  'Thank you,' too, and Ann understands. 

...       

The ache of feet, the squeal of a siren, somewhere in the background, the string of curses from the man caught in her grip. 

'Fucking let go of me, you bitch,' he snarls, trying his best to wrestle away from her. 

'Resisting arrest is a crime, Jay. Though a smart lad like you should know that,' she notes, dragging him towards the flashing car. 'Shak, could you take this cultured young man off my hands please?'

He nods and takes the unruly youth from her outstretched hand. He swears again, the profanities ugly in the late evening air. 

She slides into the front seat. Closes her eyes. The thought is there again.

Becky and Ann side-by-side.

Her daughter and the girl (though not a girl, right, at twenty-six?) she saved the life of. 

Same age. Twenty-eight. Had, of course, her Becky been alive.

It's more than that.

It's that look in the eye. The one that she thinks, maybe, Ann didn't have eighteen months ago. The one that haunted Catherine every time she looked at her daughter in those last few months. 

Two damaged souls. Damaged by the same twisted monster. 

Becky found relief in death, Ann finds it in the bottle

Life could have been so different for them both, and yet it wasn't and here they were.

A crap hand, a shit life; two broken girls.

(her two broken girls)